Day make up – tips and advice | Cancer Research UK
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Day make up – tips and advice

Cancer and its treatment can change how your skin looks and feels. Wearing makeup can  boost your confidence and help you look more like you. On this page you can find


A video about applying a full day make up

In this video for people with cancer, we show you how to use make up to create a natural look.

View a transcript of the video. (Opens in a new window)


Tips about applying make up

If you aren’t used to wearing makeup, it can help you to feel more confident if you practise before you start treatment. Also, buying your make up before you start treatment is a good idea. Once you start, you may feel tired and not have the energy for shopping.  

Try before you buy. You can ask the make up counter assistants to put the products on for you and then check how they look in natural daylight. Shop lighting can be harsh.

Don’t give in to sales pressure. Tell the assistant you want to see how long the product lasts and how your skin responds before you buy.

Mix and match – you don’t have to buy all the products from one company. It is worth shopping around to find what suits you best.

Primers for your face and eyes help to give an even tone to your skin. They also help your make up to last longer.

  • If you have oily skin, use a matt facial primer
  • If you have dry or more mature skin, go for a brightening or illuminating one

Concealers help to cover small blemishes

  • Match your concealer to your skin tone – shop assistants can help you choose
  • Concealers should be creamy and easy to blend
  • Avoid concealers that dry to a powder finish because they sit in the lines on your face

Mineral make ups can act as a foundation

  • After priming and concealing you can use a mineral make up as a foundation
  • Mineral make up looks like a powder but acts like a foundation and is quick and easy to put on – choose a talc free one
  • They come as loose or pressed powders and give a matt (non shiny) look

Colour correcting creams (CC creams) moisturise and give a smooth colour

  • If your skin tends to be dry, you may prefer to use a CC cream
  • CC creams give your skin a luminous, glowing finish
  • CC creams also contain sunscreen to protect your skin


  • If you use a creamy foundation, a cream blusher tends to work better
  • If you use a matt foundation use a powder blusher
  • Smile and put a small amount of blusher on to the apple of your cheeks and blend up towards the top of your ear lobe.
  • Use either a brush or your fingers for a cream blusher
  • Use a brush to apply powder blusher
  • You can use your cream blusher on your cheeks and lips

When you having treatment your lips are likely to become dry. Use lip balm often and have it with you all the time so you can reapply it.

Check with your doctor or specialist nurse before using any of these skin care products if you

  • Are still having cancer treatment
  • Have had treatment to your face or neck
  • Have had a skin reaction

More information and other organisations

Look good Feel Better is a charity set up by the cosmetics industry. Volunteer beauty therapists provide skincare and make up workshops for women having cancer treatment. You also get a goodie bag. The workshops are held in 40 hospitals across the UK. You can find your nearest workshop and read more about the work of the charity on their website.

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Updated: 31 March 2014